Bess bests Eagles

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, March 14, 2012

When not striking out 10 batters for Florala Tuesday night, John Bess also makes tagouts at home, like above. Bess helped lead the Wildcats to a 11-1 win over Pleasant Home at FHS. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Florala’s John Bess had 10 strikeouts and allowed one run on one hit in five innings to help lead the Wildcats to a 11-1 victory over Pleasant Home on Tuesday night at FHS.

Bess’ performance on the mound helped improve the Wildcats’ record to 5-3 on the season, as FHS will visit Kinston next Friday for a doubleheader in Class 1A, Area 2 action.

FHS first-year baseball coach Bubba Nall said after a bit of time, Bess found his groove.

“Like anybody else, it was a little bit of nerves,” Nall said. “He got going and it was pretty obvious that he was in command. His curve ball was working well (Tuesday night).

“He did a good job,” he said.

By the top of the third inning, Bess had six strikeouts recorded on the Eagles, who had three hits in the mercy-rule loss.

Behind Bess, Florala’s defense stepped up, forcing an out at home in the first inning and back-to-back tag-outs at first base in the top of the fifth inning.

“John was on,” PHS coach Cody McCain said. “He pitched a really good game. He was hitting his spots and locating well.

“When you strike out as many times as we did, and when you have as many errors in the field, you can’t expect to beat anybody,” he said. “That was really our problem tonight.”

Five of Florala’s runs were earned, as the Wildcats scored six runs in the fifth inning from a 5-1 lead after the fourth.

“We had a little bit of movement on the bases, and our kids did a good job with that,” Nall said. “We played good defense, and I was proud of that.

“Defense is going to win it anyway, when it’s all said and done,” he said.

Florala’s Jonathan Burleson and Levi Thames scored on a miss-throw in the second inning to get the Wildcats on board. Hunter Oswald gave FHS a 3-0 berth on a squeeze from third base.

Pleasant Home (3-2, 2-0 in Class 1A, Area 3) would score its only run in the top of the third inning on an RBI single from John Newby to score Hunter Odom, who reached on Bess’ lone walk.

Thames scored his second of his three runs on the night in the fourth inning on a Bess RBI single. Bess later came around on an error from right field to give the Wildcats a 5-1 advantage.

Florala could’ve made it 6-1, but Pleasant Home’s Kaleb Powell launched a throw from center field to home for the tagout on Brock Godwin.

Gavin McCurley, Austin McNeil and Burleson would score on errors with no outs in the fifth.

Later in the inning, Godwin added a two-run single to score Thames and Jace Robbins to put Florala ahead 10-1.

As he won the game on the mound, Bess would score the game-winning run off of an RBI single from Erik Vega, who led the Wildcats with three hits.

Godwin had two RBIs; Vega and Bess had one RBI each for the Wildcats.

In junior varsity action, the Wildcats beat the Eagles 6-4, despite giving up three runs in the top of the fifth after pulling ahead 6-1 in the fourth.

“We beat a good team,” Nall said. “They (Pleasant Home) played us hard. They’ve got good pitching.

“We started hitting the ball better last night, and we hit the ball when we needed to (tonight),” he said.